Tag Archives: Sienna Films

CBC greenlights Sort Of, from creators Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo

From a media release:

CBC has greenlit new original comedy SORT OF (8×30) from Sienna Films (Trickster, Cardinal). Created by Bilal Baig (Acha Bacha) and Fab Filippo (Save Me) and starring Baig, SORT OF is a big-hearted series about Sabi Mehboob (Baig), a fluid millennial who straddles various identities from sexy bartender at an LGBTQ bookstore/bar, to the youngest child in a large Pakistani family, to the de facto parent of a downtown hipster family. Sabi feels like they’re in transition in every aspect of their life, from gender to love to sexuality to family to career. The half-hour single-camera comedy begins production in Toronto today.

In addition to Baig, the cast includes Gray Powell (Hudson & Rex, Designated Survivor), Amanda Cordner (Baroness von Sketch Show, The Expanse), Ellora Patnaik (Kim’s Convenience, Schitt’s Creek), Grace Lynn Kung (Transplant, Star Trek: Discovery), Supinder Wraich (The 410, Crawford), Kaya Kanashiro, Aden Bedard, Gregory Ambrose Calderone (This Movie is Broken, Salvation) and Alanna Bale (Cardinal, Killjoys).

When Sabi’s best friend 7ven (Cordner) presents them with an opportunity to live and find themself in the “queerest place in the galaxy,” Sabi instead makes the decision to stay and care for the kids they nanny after their mom has a serious bike accident. Do they regret it? Sort of. A coming-of-age story, SORT OF exposes the labels we once poured ourselves into as no longer applicable…to anyone. A show about how each and every one of us is in transition. Sort of.

A CBC original series produced by Sienna Films, SORT OF is created by Bilal Baig and Fab Filippo, who also serve as showrunners and executive producers. The series is written by Baig, Filippo, Jenn Engels, Nelu Handa and Ian Iqbal Rashid, with Filippo and Renuka Jeyapalan (Kim’s Convenience, Workin’ Moms) directing. Sienna Films’ Jennifer Kawaja and Julia Sereny are also executive producers.

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Comments and queries for the week of May 15

I was crying through the last season of Cardinal and blubbering so hard during the last episode (rather incongruous for a murder mystery, I know). I’m glad that it wasn’t a tidy ending in that Delorme does end up going and Cardinal just starts on another case. I understand the actors would willingly return if there is a chance for more stories. I hope it happens. —John

I loved this show from the first episode in Season 1. Billy and Karine are unforgettable as Cardinal and Lise. I love them both. The music, the scenery, the shots … it was a treat to watch and I looked forward to every episode. Farewell, parting is such sweet sorrow.  Hope to see Karine again soon, but don’t expect that Billy is going to leave Denmark/Norway anytime soon. At least we had him for four [brief] seasons. —Judy

Canadian TV at its absolute best and on a par with Motive. I’m sad it has come to an end but how many more deranged serial killers could there be in Algonquin Bay?! Still, I’ll miss the scenery and stellar cast. —Paresh

On one level it was a shame the TV show attempted to blend the novels together. Each book alone could have been one season! On another level, some of the scenes in the novels couldn’t be filmed, right? But this show did an amazing job of bringing the books to life. Damn, I don’t want it to end!! —Stephen

Will miss this hauntingly beautiful show; maybe, just maybe, they can muster up another season or movie. The scenery’s too beautiful to waste, along with the fabulous leads. One can hope. —D Mac

Got a question or comment about Canadian TV? Email greg.david@tv-eh.com or via Twitter @tv_eh.

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Farewell, Cardinal

This Monday night, a Canadian television series says goodbye. After four seasons, Cardinal ends, closing a chapter on some truly groundbreaking TV.

I was a fan of the Cardinal from the very beginning thanks to reading and loving the source material written by Giles Blunt years ago. The tale of a small-town Canadian cop solving crimes? I was all in. But would a television adaptation work? How would a lead character that was so in his head translate to the small screen?

There are a lot of folks to credit with how it was done, from Season 1 writer Aubrey Nealon, to actor Billy Campbell, director Podz, Sienna Films, and executives at Bell Media. Instead of going inside Detective John Cardinal’s head, we stayed outside, the camera coming in close on Campbell’s face, reading what was there in his expression and in his eyes. The same goes for Detective Lise Delorme. Karine Vanasse, and the creative folks get kudos for breathing life into this feisty, fantastic cop. I can’t imagine two actors more suited to the roles they were cast in. Re-reading the novels, which I will do this summer, means I’ll picture their faces as I scan the pages.

Northern Ontario—and the weather than comes with it—has played a huge role in Cardinal‘s storytelling, reflecting the changes in season in this country and adding another layer (pun intended) to each episode.

Back in 2004, Corner Gas debuted. It changed the way we looked at ourselves on the sitcom front, and proved Canada could do comedy just well—and I’d argue better—than the U.S. Now, with Cardinal Bell it has been done with the drama genre. I’m a huge fan of Nordic Noir—crime dramas set in Scandinavian locales—and Cardinal deserves to stand among the very best of those. And, I’m hoping, Cardinal will inspire more drama like it to be created in this country.

Thanks to Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Glen Gould, James Downing, Kristen Thomson, Deborah Hay, Eric Hicks, Zach Smadu, Alanna Bale and the rest of the cast for bringing these characters to life in such a convincing way. Thank you to Aubrey Nealon, Sarah Dodd, Patrick Tarr, Jane Maggs, Gemma Holdway, Naben Ruthnum, Patrick Whistler, Alison Lea Bingeman, Jennica Harper, Russ Cochrane, Noelle Carbone, Aaron Bala, Shannon Masters, Penny Gummerson and Jordi Mand for writing such wonderful scripts. Thank you to Podz, Jeff Renfroe and Nathan Morlando for your directing. And thanks to the crew, producers, executives and everyone else who made Cardinal happen.

I’m going to miss Cardinal, but I’m so glad it was made in the first place. It’s hard to make television in this country, and even harder to do it right.

Cardinal did it right.

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Cardinal director Nathan Morlando on Season 4: “It was super, super physically intense”

It’s no secret that I love Cardinal‘s winter settings most. The cold and snow are another character, keeping Algonquin Bay’s citizens inside and cut off from each other. That distancing adds to the isolation and gives an added level of dread to the crimes that are happening.

And while it sure looks good and contributes to the story, the extreme climate played havoc during Season 4 of Cardinal. As co-showrunner and season director Nathan Morlando told us, it was a challenge to bring unforgettable scenes to life.

Morlando, who wrote and directed the feature film Citizen Gangster and directed Mean Dreams, gave us a behind-the-scenes peek at the process.

What was it like to come into Cardinal where the world had already been built?
Nathan Morlando: Fantastic, actually because it had been so strongly established. The only negative, and it’s a very temporary negative, is the stress and anxiety you feel initially by inheriting such a successful show. So before it gets really, really, really going, there’s always that voice in your mind, ‘Are you going to be the one who’s going to screw this up?’ But once the machine gets going, like after the first half-hour of shooting, the voice was gone because there was no time for it.

The positive was to inherit such a great show. And to have been invited to follow on the heels of everyone else that preceded me was really amazing. The Cardinal crew themselves were very loyal, passionate; they are super fans of the show. They care so much and they work so hard. This year we spent the first month in February, which was North Bay’s coldest recorded month in their history. Outdoors it was super, super physically intense and psychologically intense because of that. But the crew was just an extraordinary team. And because they are so loyal to Billy, Karine, to the show, to [producers] Julia [Sereny] and Jennifer [Kawaja], there was never a complaint, there was never, ‘We can’t do this.’

Wow!
NM: For the last episode, we spent a week in the woods. And before we shot that last episode, we had the biggest snowfall in North Bay’s history, it was four feet of snow. And suddenly, the paths and how we thought we were going to shoot this thing and move our trucks, we couldn’t conceivably move in the forest. We had an emergency production meeting two weeks before, whether or not it was even feasible to get in there, to get in and out.

Part of our crew spent days, day and night, flattening paths so that we could actually move in the woods. Steve Cosens, the cinematographer, and I had to go into the woods two weeks before to imagine the movement of all these various scenes. Then we had to imagine where our camera was going to move because. So we had to create the actors’ paths and the camera’s paths two weeks in advance.

Aside from all that planning, what about your cameras? They’ve got to get cold to a point where the shutters won’t close.
NM: Yeah, exactly. For the first couple of weeks, because of these cameras [and temperatures], the camera crew had to get on set earlier and stay sometimes four hours after to heat the lenses because the lenses would fog. They had to work extremely long hours to make that happen. So yeah, there were a lot of equipment challenges. We were using a drone, we were really concerned that the drone would crash in the cold. Fortunately, it didn’t.

My favourite seasons of Cardinal have been the winter seasons. I think it really plays well into the feeling, that isolation that you feel, that you’re supposed to feel.
NM: For sure. And the outer environment, so winter, is actually a character this year, which I really loved. And that’s really, that’s the slow mystery actually, is the character of the environment.

What was it like to work with Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse?
NM: They were amazing, as actors and as people, truly. And the crew worked the way they did because they were committed to Billy and Karine. The crew would do anything for Billy and Karine, and that isn’t always the case … that is not often the case. And the crew feels that way about them because of the way Billy and Karine treat people. This is what’s special about them: there is no hierarchy in their perception. Billy and Karine are friends with everyone and they respect everyone. They care for everyone and they make sure everyone is doing well. They’re real team players and team leaders. We were able to do what we did because of the leadership from Billy and Karine. I was very indebted to that and to the crew for feeling that way.

Cardinal airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CTV.

Images courtesy of Bell Media.

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Links: Cardinal, Season 4

From Debra Yeo of the Toronto Star:

Link: Long goodbye for Canadian crime drama Cardinal
Inside a nondescript office building in downtown North Bay, something that hundreds of people have devoted four years or more of their lives to is coming to an end. Continue reading.

From Stephen Cooke of The Chronicle Herald:

Link: Billy Campbell says farewell to detective Cardinal, dreams of sailing N.S. schooner
“When you boil it down, it’s really about the relationship between Cardinal and Delorme, and I think people who like that relationship and if they love the show and the tone and flavour of it, then they will be highly appreciative of the way the whole thing is handled and wraps up.” Continue reading. 

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Previewing Cardinal’s final season with Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse
“The metaphor we played with the first season [that] we talked a lot about, was [that] all these feelings [are] underneath a layer of ice for both characters. And it really did feel like coming home or coming full circle to shoot the final season in the winter.” Continue reading.

From Mark Daniel of the Toronto Sun:

Link: ‘Cardinal’ star Billy Campbell reflects on ‘best job’ of his career
“Both Cardinal and Delorme put themselves in mortal danger in ways that they haven’t before.” Continue reading.

From Bill Brioux of Brioux.tv:

Link: Heart and chemistry make Cardinal more than a cop show
When a TV series ends, it can be an emotional day for the cast and crew. After several seasons’ worth of long days on sets and locations, a production team often bonds together like family. Continue reading.

From Heather M. of The Televixen:

Link: Previewing Cardinal: “Adele” + reflections from Billy Campbell and Karine Vanasse
“Here are two people, I think, who could never admit how they felt about each other — to the other [and] maybe not even to themselves.” Continue reading.

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